Our New Rule

By: Brady Evans 

There’s a new rule in our household: no cell phones and computers after 8 p.m. I’m a month and a half back into the workforce now and our afternoons are a mad rush between daycare pick up, evening nap, dinner prep, nighttime routine, and miscellaneous Social mediachores. By 8 p.m. I’d collapse with my phone in my hand or my computer on my lap to decompress a bit before my own bed time. I’d scroll through Facebook, look at pictures on Instagram, check out a few blogs, finish up loose ends from work….and when 9 p.m. rolled around I’d wander to bed myself. Meanwhile, my husband was doing the same.

We were both “in the zone” and out of touch with each other. We found our days had become focused on work, then enjoying the baby for the few hours he’s awake after we got home, then chores, then the world (social media). Only with a deliberate conversation did we realize we were leaving the most important aspect out of focus: each other.

The time after 8 p.m. is now dedicated to each other. It is a time to elaborate on our days at work in a way we lacked in the past. It is a time to discuss current events with each other instead of with Facebook. Do I really know how my spouse feels about gun laws? The upcoming elections? The conflict in Syria?

Who knows how long our rule will last? Maybe until we feel sufficiently connected to one another. Or maybe until one person slips and the other follows suit. But for now, it is a healthy change and I suggest you analyze your social media usage, too. I’ll admit that I am very connected and I guess very addicted to my contacts out there in cyberspace. But shouldn’t I be primarily connected and addicted to my contact (my husband) sitting right next to me on the couch?


By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Everyone loves a good festival. The problem is that most of them are the same. Food vendors that serve fair food, bands that are too loud, too many people who have had too much beer, trash all over the ground. So, while we all love a good festival, we rarely have the opportunity to attend a good one. Well, not anymore.

OktoberfestMy best friend attends Incarnation Lutheran on Devine Street. Since 2011, Incarnation has held Oktoberfest in their backyard. You might be asking yourself…”how fun can a festival at a church be?” Well, the answer is, “more fun than any other festival in Columbia.” This event isn’t just fun, it’s impressive. Here’s a snap shot: a biergarten featuring German beers, craft beers and wine; German meals like Jaegar schnitzel, wiener schnitzel, bratwursts, potato salad, red cabbage, spaetzle, the whole nine yards; German music and dancing; and a playground, face painting, arts/crafts, and kids games. The music is going constantly, the kids are running around having a ball, the food is magnificent, and the atmosphere is just happy. I absolutely love this festival. My family and I look forward to it all year long.

oktoberfestIt just blows my mind how incredibly organized the festival is, too. The church members totally run the show. They cook, they serve, the youth group takes the orders, they run the games, they do it all.

Oktoberfest was held this past weekend, so if you missed it, I’m sorry for ya! Trust me and put this on your calendar for next year. It’s a wonderful event, totally family friendly, and it gets better every year. To the people of Incarnation, all I can say is “Holy Schnitzel” indeed!

Elizabeth Akre writes Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef).

Family Shelter Hosts Annual Blues, Brews & BBQ Benefit, November 6

Did you know that the number of homeless families in the Midlands has increased by 30 percent in the last four years? I’m on the Board of Directors for the Family Shelter, the only emergency shelter that keeps families together as they work toward becoming self-sufficient again, and I’ve quickly learned that homelessness doesn’t discriminate. Family Shelter’s fall fundraiser is coming up soon, and I wanted to invite Every Woman readers to attend. It’s not only a fabulous, fun event, but proceeds go directly toward daily living expenses required to shelter resident families.

Blues, Brews & BBQFamily Shelter will host its annual Blues, Brews & BBQ benefit on Thursday, November 6 to support food, shelter and program services offered to homeless families in the Midlands. This year’s event will be held at Doc’s Barbeque and Southern Buffet at 1601 Shop Road in Columbia.

Attendees will:

  • Indulge in a full dinner of Doc’s famous BBQ and sides
  • Enjoy locally-made craft beer from River Rat Brewery
  • Get down to foot stompin’ bluegrass music by The Blue Iguanas
  • Begin their holiday shopping at our Silent Auction
  • Help support homeless families in the Midlands

Ticket price includes full BBQ dinner, beer and wine (must be 21 to attend). Tickets are $45 through Oct. 31, and are $50 Nov. 1-6 and at the door. To purchase tickets, visit: www.columbiafamilyshelter.org.

Established in 1979, the mission of the Family Shelter is to provide emergency shelter in a stable living environment for homeless children and their parents and help our residents build life skills needed to regain independence. It is the only emergency shelter in the Midlands that serves single mothers, single fathers and couples with dependent children. For more information about Family Shelter:

Website: www.columbiafamilyshelter.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/FamilyShelter

Twitter: www.twitter.com/FamilyShelterSC

Donate: www.columbiafamilyshelter.org/donate


Old-Fashioned Fun

By: Leah Prescott

Some of my dearest memories from childhood are of playing outside with my siblings and neighbors. We played backyard baseball and tag, hunted lightning bugs and trapped turtles, jumped rope and climbed trees. And of course, we loved to swing. We had a very simple, old, metal swing set that I can still picture fondly with faded yellow and green stripes and a tiny attached slide. The way the four of us played with it, it’s a miracle it even held together.

Then something very exciting happened. Our family entered a drawing for a beautiful Rainbow swing set at a home show. I am sure my parents entered other contests at the event, but you can imagine our joy when they drew our name for the swing set. We Swingsetcouldn’t believe it! Now we had higher, stronger swings, a tall wood platform and a yellow slide, a red steering wheel and metal bars for amateur gymnastics. And boy, did we put that thing to good use for the next decade or so!

Last summer, my parents surprised the children with a gorgeous custom wooden swing set. The children were excited, but I was probably twice as thrilled. Watching that play set go up and knowing how many memories would be made on it was a delight to my heart as a Mama. I just knew it would ignite their imaginations and serve as the backdrop for endless backyard adventures for years to come.

Despite ridiculously high expectations, we have not been disappointed! If you are thinking of purchasing a play set, I have to highly recommend Carolina Backyards. We particularly love our Skyscraper Play Set because it is very high and sturdy, and it has plenty of room for all three to swing at once. The slide is tall enough to interest older children and the roof over the tree house is fully covered to keep toys dry and safe. The picnic table beneath is perfect for kids, but large enough that I can comfortably sit as well. After over a year of play, I can tell you there is lots of fun to be had in our backyard.

The fort at the top of our swing set has served as a playhouse, an art gallery, a secret hideaway, a mudpie kitchen, and a space ship. The kids have a bucket and pulley, a tin can phone, a tea set and an old wooden stove to help fuel the fun. They blow bubbles, host teddy bear tea parties, and put on elaborate synchronized swinging shows for any available audience. Since we have recess outside during our school day, it’s wonderful to have a play area with so many great features. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every time I walk out the back door I am thankful for our playground! (Thank you so much again, Mom & Dad!)

If a play set is out of your budget or won’t work in your yard, there are lots of great ideas for backyard fun to engage your little ones this fall. (Try searching Pinterest for “outdoor kid fun.”) Make a mud kitchen with old containers from the kitchen and a few plastic spoons. Build a pirate ship with discarded wooden pallets. Plant beans or sunflower seeds from the cupboard for an easy garden. Even something as simple as bringing art supplies outdoors can spark a child’s imagination. So as we enjoy this gorgeous October weather here in Columbia, get outside with your kids and enjoy some old-fashioned fun.

Breast Cancer With Help From Our Friends

Patti Handel is a four-time cancer survivor.

“’Cancer’ is the scariest word in the English language,” she said. “But it’s only part of us. It doesn’t define us.

The 61-year-old from Irmo shares words of wisdom at monthly meetings of Woman to Woman, Lexington Medical Center’s support group for breast cancer survivors.

Handel started attending Woman to Woman meetings after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2007, just one month after she and her husband moved to Irmo from Long Island, New York.

Patti Handel and Brenda Osteen at the West Columbia Riverwalk

Patti Handel and Brenda Osteen at the West Columbia Riverwalk

“I didn’t have a South Carolina driver’s license yet and I needed an oncologist, surgeon and other doctors. It was overwhelming.”

So, she found comfort – and new friends in a new town – at the support group, which is designed to offer companionship to women who are recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

At Woman to Woman, cancer survivors share their experiences, learn about the latest treatment options and swap tips including how pickle juice seems to help cure chemotherapy-induced nausea.

That’s where Patti met Brenda Osteen in 2010.

Brenda, age 67, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 after a mammogram. The Lexington resident endured a mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstruction.

At the meetings, Patti and Brenda hit it off.

“Patti’s been where I’ve been,” Brenda said. “You can’t explain cancer to someone who hasn’t gone through it. It’s like trying to explain a migraine to someone who never had a headache.”

When you see Patti and Brenda together, you can tell they’re close. Both impeccably dressed, they laugh like college friends and share jokes and stories that make you laugh from your belly.

From trading bestsellers they’ve read to talking about their grandchildren while sipping a cocktail at a weekly dinner, they understand each other well.

“We need friends to hold hands with, laugh with and cry with,” Patti said.

Patti especially needed Brenda’s support after a cancer recurrence in her leg in 2010, and another in her abdomen and pelvis one year ago.

Brenda and Patti

Brenda and Patti

“When it came back, I was mad as a hornet,” Patti said.

Patti has had chemotherapy three times and lost her hair twice. She’s monitored every 8 weeks, with scans every three months.

Brenda has inspired Patti to stay positive.

“We get up, put on our makeup, lipstick and earrings – and head out. Life is too precious to waste,” Brenda said.

Kelly Jeffcoat, breast cancer nurse navigator at Lexington Medical Center, runs the Woman to Woman support group at the hospital. As a breast cancer survivor herself, she has a first-hand understanding of the group’s experience.

“This crazy, horrible thing called breast cancer ends up giving you these beautiful relationships,” she said.

Having a cheering section during cancer is important. Studies have shown that women with friends who support them through their cancer journey may experience better outcomes.

Patti and Brenda count Kelly as a big part of the cheering section.

“Kelly is instrumental in the treatment, care and recovery of women going through breast cancer,” Patti said. “Kelly can really say, ‘I know how you feel. I understand.’”

Patti and Brenda will attend Women’s Night Out on October 14, Lexington Medical Center’s annual dinner that recognizes October as breast cancer awareness month and honors cancer survivors and their families. More than 900 people attend each year.

The event includes a silent auction, physician exhibits, fashion show featuring models who are breast cancer survivors, dinner and a talk with keynote speaker Kate Larsen. A breast cancer survivor, Larsen will talk about the importance of friendship during cancer treatment.

For more information about Women’s Night Out or to purchase tickets, visit LexMed.com or call Lexington Medical Center Community Outreach at (803) 936-8850.

The Woman to Woman support group at Lexington Medical Center meets on the 4th Thursday of each month at 5:00 p.m. inside the Women’s Imaging lobby at 2728 Sunset Boulevard in West Columbia. That’s Lexington Medical Park 1 on the hospital campus. The support group is free and open to any woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, regardless of where she has received her treatment.

For more information about Lexington Medical Center’s cancer services, visit LexMed.com.

Tiny Handcuff

By: Lara Winburn

Before you read this you should know I might be carefully tiptoeing on to a soap box. **Consider yourself warned.** But I am genuinely confused about a recent revelation. Maybe you can help?

marriageIn the past couple of weeks, I have heard more than one tale of people who remove their wedding bands when they go out on the town. Men and women alike decide it is more “fun” when they are on a girls’ night or a boys’ night to strip themselves of this outward symbol of marriage and, I can only assume, also their inhibitions.

I have been thinking about this, and I am both annoyed and confused by this behavior. I mean, my husband and I have referred to our wedding rings as “the smallest handcuff in the world.” But we joke. (Seriously, just jokes.) Not to mention, it would take a hack saw or a tiny bullet to shoot my ring off this pudgy finger, which does make it a little like a handcuff.

With this trend, I am concerned about a few unsuspecting souls. (Now obviously, if this “fun” behavior is agreed upon by both parties…whatever floats your boat, people. My boring self will stick with keeping my ring on at girls’ night.) But if this is in secret, what about the husband or wife that is out of town on business or at home with the kids? Are people just throwing caution to the wind and their wedding ring in the jewelry box? (I mean, where do you keep it?) Is someone considering how their spouse might feel about this missing accessory?

But there is something else that outrages me. What about those people out there who are truly trying to find that someone special and they find….somebody else’s someone special. Is it really fair to trick those people? Why bring them into whatever unhappiness you are breeding? Even if this is the agreement you have with your spouse, my friend looking for Mr. Right is not part of this agreement and does not deserve Mr. I-Don’t-Wear-My-Ring-Sometimes.

Mostly, I really just do not get it. I am making some assumptions here, but nothing too drastic, so bear with me.

  1. You choose to get married; it was not some arranged commitment that involved a dowry and some goats.
  2. I am not going to promote nor dissuade divorce. We live in a place where that is a real and – from what I understand – relatively manageable process.
  3. Doesn’t it feel just a little bit like a Lifetime movie or a bad sitcom to “Go out on the town and take your wedding ring off?” I am just annoyed that I have heard this tawdry tale before and did not think it was really a common practice of people I know.
  4. Isn’t life, marriage, love, jobs, kids, laundry, and an iCloud complicated enough? Don’t you already feel like you are barely keeping up? Call me lazy, but this ruse just seems like more work.

With recent debates about who should and should not be allowed to get married (another discussion for another day), shouldn’t you just put your tiny handcuff back on before somebody gets hurt?

What is Feminism, Really?

By: Shannon Shull

Shannon ShullThe great Maya Angelou once said, “I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”

The definition of feminism:

: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

: organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests

In going by the true definition of feminism, I am proud to call myself a feminist. I definitely believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Period. Like Maya Angelou, I, too, whole-heartedly believe that it would be stupid not to be on my own side.

But… and here comes the big BUT… today the word “feminist” has been skewed, distorted. People have taken the term and infused it with new meaning – and not in the best way…. Ladies and gentlemen, society needs to be reminded of the true definition of feminism and get back to the core, which is simply based on equality.

Beyoncé was quoted in British Vogue, hesitant to describe herself as a feminist, saying,

“That word can be very extreme. But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself as anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.”

That was back in 2013. Now, Queen Bey is supposedly standing tall for equality, saying this past January,

“We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet.”

However, according to her 16-minute performance on the MTV VMA’s it may NEVER be a reality. Yea, thanks Beyoncé, nice try, but you’ve missed the mark TOTALLY…unless the official definition of feminism has changed to the belief that women should act as sexual objects, demeaning themselves publically.

Sure, the image of a beautiful, tough woman in front of huge, glowing letters that spell “FEMINIST” is a powerful and even empowering visual. But cut to the earlier visual of her and her half-naked dancers gyrating onstage to highly suggestive lyrics (all while her precious toddler girl is watching on) and well, that tough feminist image is disgustingly tainted and so way off the mark it’s mindboggling. I bet those incredible women from history who risked their lives to stand up for women’s rights are literally rolling in their graves!

Most women are hesitant to speak of feminism, fearful of how people will take it and if they’ll suffer a brutal backlash. That’s because the meaning of feminism has become so skewed. This public display of supposed “feminists” is confusing our generation and the generations to come, I’m afraid. Blogger Mollie Hemingway nails it with this piece, “Feminism or Sexism,” in which she states, “feminism right now is an incoherent mess of double standards.” (Also, here is a link to Hemingway’s interview on Fox News. Start at the 25-second mark.)

I agree. Quite frankly, according to pop culture, being a feminist seems to equate with being promiscuous. Ugh, it makes my stomach turn just typing it, but gosh does it seem true. What it comes down to is knowledge, and right now it seems that our society is lacking that knowledge. We all need to be educated! Not just us women, but men too. We need to educate ourselves on what feminism really means. We need to look back at the women and men of history who fought for equality and stood for the true definition of feminism.

Recently, actress Emma Watson made headlines with a UN speech. She stated,

“Feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists.”

It comes down to a fear of seeming unattractive and aggressive, even a man hater. She brings up some pretty crucial points on the issue.

I personally think she is a brave young lady and I applaud her. She has helped to get the conversation going and get people thinking. Unfortunately though, she is suffering the backlash of the ignorant people who choose to attack her. I believe, whether you agree with her or not, that she did not hurt the cause. Was her speech a game changer? I’m not sure. It may not be allowed to be because the media is too busy focusing on the drama instead of focusing on the positivity in her message and how it can empower everyone who is open to listen and take it in.

Freelance writer Clementine Ford brings up some very important points on the topic. She states,


“These are not facts that exist because men have thus far been “denied” entry into feminist debate and activism. They won’t disappear “naturally” when men are empowered to be sensitive. They exist because patriarchal power hinges on the subjugation of women, and anything that distracts from that is a liability to the cause.

I love that Emma Watson has bravely put herself on the line as a proud feminist. It’s wonderful that she may be instrumental in inspiring millions more to consider these issues. Bravo to her. But to be truly game changing, you have to actually change the game. And while it is important for men to choose to be allies, addressing actual systemic inequality through the funding of programs which empower and defend women’s sexual, economic and political rights is the only way to ensure women have a chance at winning.”

Wow. Yet another case of a writer nailing it, I think. Again, what it comes down to is education. And we should not stoop so low as to allow pop culture to define what it supposedly means to be a feminist. We have to truly educate ourselves so that as an individual seeking equal rights, we can empower ourselves to make our own decisions based on facts and truth, and wholly represent the meaning behind feminism.

It goes along with not being too quick to judge, which is an issue I’ve written about before. We must educate ourselves before we condemn or slam others. I will stand with Maya Angelou and say, yes, I choose to be on my own side. As an intelligent, strong woman, it would be silly not to. And I will back up that statement with an educated response, that I stand for, about what the true meaning of feminism is, which is simply the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. I urge you to take the time to check out my links and educate yourself on the issue. I know I am glad that I did.